We are currently working on plans for a new home. Our son is not yet in a wheel chair but if the day comes when he needs to be, we have decided we are going to be prepared. We have included 36" doorways, larger washrooms and special shower, reverse brick molds and no carpet. Is there anything else someone might suggest? Has anyone built and then wished they had done something different? Are there any little things that are easily overlooked? Any suggestions would be appreciated.
Thank You.

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I have an accessible home with some wrinkles, but for the most part it works. Prioritize based upon what is most critical. Ramps, roll in shower, at least one wide door into all necessary space. You can overwhelm yourself, it you make the list too long at first.

There are many books/articles on accessible homes, but there is no "one size fits all". Baring new medical developments, my son (who is now 17 1/2 years old) will basically be a quadriplegic equivalent, so I am trying to do what will work for him. My son will have limited use of his hands, so I don't want him to have to control too many things with that limited strength.

There are also cost questions, for instance a friend in Indiana used an animal door opener for his door because it is $0. and the human equivalent was $400. Maybe by thinking together we can help each other. I know almost every community has organizations that will do basic ramps and other changes to houses of elderly and people with disabilities.

The Christopher and Dana Reeves foundation publishes "Paralysis Resource Guide." See page 231 for their comments on modifying homes and their reference sources. This book is a great resource because it is written by people with mobility disabilities for other people with mobility disabilities. And they actually have a phone number where you can talk to someone.

One step at a time, one day at a time, one hope at a time.

Ginny
Im sure this was said somewhere,but if you are going to have hallways, make sure they are wide. Or put plexiglass all the way down. Our walls are torn up from Justin not paying attention and scraping his chair down the side of them. We also have a few doors with holes gouged in them from the chair. Oh and our front door is lovely where he has used his chair to push it open. It has a permanent dent in the middle. Also, lots and lots of plugs. Besides the tv, computer, video games, etc etc, we needed plugs for hospital bed, chair charger, cell phone charger, feeding pump, pulse ox, multi base lift, nebulizer, and so on. My husband is an electrician, so he was able to add plugs to our house. You also need to make sure your circuit board can handle the extra load that all that will bring.

--Samantha
Hi Ginny,

One thing off the top of my head is the sinks. Having lower sinks will certainly help them out quite a bit. Also, if you decide to get a service dog, they do require you to have french door handles so the dogs can open them for you. Just a couple right off the top of my head.
We live in a doublewide manufactured home. We added on across the whole back of the house to make a room and bathroom for my son, enlarge the living room and also enlarge my daughter's room and make it where my son could fit in her room. We used tile in Roland's bedroom and bathroom although I think hardwood would have been easier to clean - we have a very sandy yard and driveway and the wheelchair tracks in alot of dirt and the tile is hard to sweep. There is not a door between his room and bathroom, just an opening that has a curtain hanging , so it can be closed for privacy if needed. We reinforced ceilings in case we some day want to add in ceiling lift. His shower is roll in and large enough for someone to fit it it with him because he needs help showering. One thing we did was make sure we had enough plug outlets in his room and around his bed and that has paid off. He now uses a plug to charge his chair, one for hospital bed, one for monitor so we can hear him when he sleeps and one for bi-pap breathing machine he sleeps with. We did not want to go with tile or hardwood floors in the whole house so we replaced our carpet with a short commercial grade carpet and glued it to the floor without a pad. It is holding up great to the wheelchair. The main suggestion I would make is lots of open space - it makes it a lot easier for him to get around the house in his wheelchair and we use a portable hoyer lift that also requires plenty of room.
Make sure you have 4 foot hall ways and a roll in shower is great. Lift in the ceiling that goes from bed to toilet to shower is great too. Large open spaces. I even would suggest a counter top in a playroom, wheelchair level. If you have a tub I would recommend it to be your waist level it helps your back out.
Hi Jack and Terry,

I was wondering how large you made your roll in shower? We are in process of adding an accessible bath for our son. We plan on having radient heat in the floor and right now the shower is 4 by 5 and I am thinking of having two indepentdnet shower heads. The architect is suggesting a folding seat attached to the wall and I saw yours are protable. Also I have seen comments that it may be preferred to move the toilet further away from the wall for the purpose of accommodating a lift system. As always hind sight is 20 - 20 and any feedback is greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.

Jim



Cure for Carson said:
Hi Rick, 1 year ago we built an accessible home. The best thing we did was put an elevator in that will take our son to all 3 levels. We made sure that every door to every room in the house was accessible. We put in rocker light switches, and intercom so that we can hear him when we are asleep in our room (all the way at the other end of the house). We took out every hall way and put in wood floors. We have flat ceilings throughout so that as the need arises we can install a lift that will carry Carson throughout the house. We made his bathroom fully accessible by installing a huge roll in shower/steamer that has removable faucets so that he can shower himself; grab bars and portable shower seats. He does not have cabinets under his sink so that when the time comes he can roll all the way under. We added a ramp along with stairs coming in from the garage so that it works for everyone. We made sure that we had a huge flat driveway so that Carson could ride his scooter around with all the kids and not deal with hills to climb. Double front doors make it easy for him to go in and out to sit on the covered front porch. We installed a hot tub just out side the basement doors and it is a breeze for Carson to get in and out. We wanted to make sure that he could get everywhere in the home with ease. Our kitchen has an island along with a wheelchair height counter attached to it so that Carson and his friends can sit there with ease. I hope that everything we did to this house will be a waste but until the day we cure these boys, this was the best investment we ever made. I would love to send you pictures if you would like, or if you are ever in UT we would love to give you a tour. As of yet we have not regretted anything.
Hi
I just finished reading all the great suggestions. I have a few more. We built 4 years ago and our son is 17. Have a seperate electrical panal that hooks up to a generator. Put a designated heater in the bathroom that you can turn on during bathing. My son gets the bathroom super warm for showers so he doesn't freeze to death. We also intergrated an equipement closet into his bedroom to house the charging wheelchair, lift, shower chair etc. so his room isn't a medical closet. We also built in an emergency exit door that is very wide. In the case of an emergency we could push his medical bed out taking off a little trim. I also like having an attached garage so that we don't have to load out in the cold (the garage is also insulated and has a heater we can turn on when it gets very cold. We have an electric door system on my son's door, the emergency door and the back door so that he can excite independently when he is no longer able to use his arms. Again, having the bathroom large enough really makes life easier. Good luck and have fun.

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